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  1. 1. A2-Level Sociology Suicide
  2. 2. • 2093792/Gary-Speed-inquest-Issues- marriage-Louise-months-suicide-Alan- Shearer-reveals.html
  3. 3. Interpretivism and SuicideWhat key words can you remember in relation to Interpretivists?How can those key words be applied to suicide? What types of research methods do Interpretivists use?
  4. 4. Interpretivism and Suicide Positivists focus on causes of suicideInterpretivist Sociologists study suicide in a non-scientific method. Interpretivists reject the use of official statistics as they prefer to look at why individuals behave in the ways they do(the meanings of suicide for those involved e.g. deceased & the coroners label deaths)
  5. 5. Interpretivism and Suicide Douglas (Interactionist) criticisesDurkheim’s study of suicide on 2 main grounds: 1. Use of suicide statistics2.Actors meaning and qualitative data
  6. 6. Use of suicide statistics• Suicide is not influenced by social facts as Durkheim believes but social constructs based on coroners interpretations of deaths and influences by other actors e.g. Family members• Suicide and the stats based on them are the product of interactions and negotiations between those involved- Well Integrated individuals have family & friends to deny & cover up suicide
  7. 7. McCarthy & Walsh study• Studies the suicide rate in Dublin between 1964 and 1968 and estimated that the suicide rate should have been 4 x greater than officials records showed.• Family members, police, family doctors and court officials collaborated to cover up suicides and have them categorized as accidents due to stigma associated with suicide in Catholic society (mortal sin)
  8. 8. In Western Societies social meanings of suicide include escape, repentance, search for help/sympathy, self Actors meaning and qualitative data punishment, revenge Other societies may do it for religious reasons e.g. getting to heaven• Durkheim ignores the meanings of the act• Douglas suggests that motives and meanings of suicide can vary between cultures• We must classify suicides according to their meaning for the deceased• To do this qualitative data must be used; suicide notes, diaries, interviews with survivors & relatives• This will give a better idea of the real rate of suicide than OS
  9. 9. Evaluation Douglas produces a classification of suicide based on the actors supposed meanings. However what evidence is there to state that Sociologists are better than coroners at interpreting a persons meanings Douglas is inconsistent suggesting that OS are the product of a coroners opinions. At other times he claims we can really discover the causes of suicide- yet how can we if we can never really know whether a death was a suicide if all we have is coroners opinions
  10. 10. Take a comparative approach in the study of suicide between Durkheim and Douglas Write a brief summary of Douglas’s explanations of Suicide
  11. 11. Ethnomethodology• Ethnomethodology, another type of social action approach, can certainly be described as micro sociology as it examines how people speak to each other and interact in everyday conversations and in relationships within their own homes.
  12. 12. Ethnomethodology • Ethnomethodology reveals that there are unspoken rules when people of a common culture chat to each other. For example we usually take turns and respond to what the other person has just said in an appropriate way.
  13. 13. Ethnomethodology • There are conventions such as not describing our ailments in detail if a comparative stranger greets us with ‘How are you?’
  14. 14. EthnomethodologyAtkinson (1978)Takes a different Interpretivist approach from DouglasEthnomethodology- social reality is a construct of its members He agrees with Douglas that statistics are merely the result of coroners interpretations
  15. 15. EthnomethodologyWhat does Atkinson believe? Page 151
  16. 16. Atkinsons commonsense factors which affectsa coroners decision to classify a death as asuicide or not are:1. The presence of a suicide note or suicide threats before death2. Type of death such as hanging indicate suicide3. Location and circumstances4. Life History e.g. Depression, Disturbed childhood, Divorce, Bankruptcy etc
  17. 17. • These common sense factors provide clues to whether the deceased intended to take their own life• Coroners engage in analysing cases using taken- for-granted assumptions about what constitutes a ‘typical suicide’• Therefore when Positivists study suicide statistics that shows isolated individuals commit suicide all they will discover is the taken for granted assumptions made by coroners not social facts about causes of suicide
  18. 18. AO2 Ethnomethodology has been criticised for being self-defeating….Atkinsons view that the only thing that can be studied is coroners interpretation can be turned back on him. If objective truth cannot be found (real suicide rate) then ethnomethodologists own accounts are no more than interpretations- so why should we accept it Most ethnomethodologists accept that the accounts are merely interpretations (do not claim that their interpretations are superior to those of coroners)
  19. 19. AO2Summarise Atkinson
  20. 20. Taylor: Realism & Suicide• Takes a different approach to Positivists and Interpretivists.• Like Interpretivists he argues that suicide stats are not valid ‘persons under trains study’• However like Positivists he believes we can explain suicide (can discover real patterns and causes)• Realist approach aims to reveal underlying structures and causes which though not observable can explain observable evidence.• Uses case studies to discover the meanings that cause suicide
  21. 21. ‘Persons Under Trains’ (1989) • Questions usefulness of suicide statistics • Studied a 12 month period – 32 cases of uncertainty – no strong suicide clues but 17 were defined as suicide
  22. 22. Defining Suicide• Many theories focus on acts where the individual was intent on dying and that resulted in death• Taylor suggests that in many cases those who attempt suicide are not certain that their actions will kill them.• Neither are all who attempt suicide aiming to die• We should look at successful and unsuccessful attempts and adapt a broader definition ‘any deliberate act of self damage or potential self damage where the individual cannot be sure of survival’
  23. 23. Types of Suicide• Suicide is based on an individuals certainty or uncertainty about themselves or others• Read through the 4 types of Suicide and summarise (page 152)
  24. 24. AO2 Taylor’s theory is based on his interpretations of the actors meanings (we do not know if it is correct) Individuals cases may involve a combination of motives and be difficult to categorise Taylor used a small number of case studies (unrepresentative) Theories are useful in explaining some of the observed patterns of suicide such as why attempts differ in seriousness and why only some people leave notes Deals with failed and successful attempts
  25. 25. Plenary: Meanings of suicide activity
  26. 26. Theories Recap
  27. 27. Theory Explanation of suicide Usefulness of statistics? Evaluation points (+ key concepts) (methods discussion)Durkheim Positivism Social facts as thingsGibbs & Martin InterpretivismDouglas Comparative method SocialBaechler constructionism coronersAtkinson Meanings of suicide correlationsTaylor labelling
  28. 28. Practice Questions1. Quick Check Questions Page 1532. Item A: For positivists, suicide has social causes. This is why different groups have different rates of suicide. Foe example, Durkheim found that Protestants have higher rates than Catholics. In his view, this was the result of differences in levels of social integration and moral regulation Using material from Item A and elsewhere, assess the view that we can discover the social causes of suicide